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Dressing up in a not so dressed up town?

post #1 of 39
Thread Starter 

So this is my first post I'll introduce myself quick.

 

I'm 23 and in my senior year of my Bachelors of Manufacturing Engineering, going to school at Penn College which is located in Williamsport, PA.  I am also learning Affiliate Marketing on the side and that has taken me to San Diego, Las Vegas, NYC and many more places to come!

 

So the issue is a few months ago I got tired of being another guy always in jeans and a t-shirt at clubs, bars, public places, etc.  Don't get me wrong there is nothing wrong with the basic jeans and a t-shirt.  The problem is this town isn't classy at all and therefore the usual go-to for everyone is a dirty plaid button up and muddy boots; its a country working class sort of town.

 

Whenever I go places for conferences, vacation, etc; basically anywhere outside of Pennsylvania I fit in.  It's when I'm back here I'm the one that sticks out. Don't get me wrong, I don't mind sticking out, its sorta the point I'm trying to make that I'm not another guy, I have some class even for a 23 year old college student.  So how do I get friends to back off the criticism? I'm also not dressing up to my usual par, I am talking nights that I wear black leather loafers, dark jeans, and a button up; I am the dressed up one. 

 

I think the worst part of it is people often saying I look gay, please understand I have absolutely nothing against the gay community its just not an angle I want to come across as for trying to meet and talk to girls.

 

So how do I better handle the criticism of dressing up in a dressed down town?

 

Thanks!!

post #2 of 39
Dont give a fuck and hang out with cooler people.
post #3 of 39
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by landshark View Post

Dont give a fuck and hang out with cooler people.

 

I suppose that's one way to handle it, haha. 

 

A few of my friends are good friends and its a point to badger each other on the easiest targets, mine obviously is how I focus on looks and well fashion.  It's just hard to tell someone I'm a straight male who likes fashion, actually cares how I look and wants to be by all accounts a gentleman in how I act.

post #4 of 39
don't give a fuck and just hit on the ladies.
post #5 of 39
Quote:
Originally Posted by scubaru View Post

So how do I get friends to back off the criticism?
Your friends give you a hard time because you wear jeans, a button up shirt, and loafers, instead of less nice jeans, a dirty plaid button-up, and muddy boots?

The first time a friend criticizes what you're wearing, just tell him something meaningless and distracted, like, "Right," or "Okay."

If he keeps harping on it, tell him that you heard him the first time, and you find it somewhat unsettling just how much interest he seems to be taking in your clothing.

Tell me, if the situation were reversed, and you constantly gave him a hard time about what he was wearing, how do you think he'd respond?
Quote:
So how do I better handle the criticism of dressing up in a dressed down town?
Some men lead, others follow. Decide in which role you're more comfortable.

Seriously, some people place great value on being accepted, and fitting in, and not rocking the boat. If that's you, then dress in such a manner as to be accepted by the people around you. Other people place great value on independence of expression - and how you choose to dress is one form of individual expression. If that's you, then (within certain limits) dress to please yourself, and don't worry so much about it differing from the local norm.

Either sort of person can be a good and worthwhile human being. So be honest with yourself, and decide who you are. (And yes, obviously isn't not entirely a black/white sort of thing. It's more of a spectrum. That's understood.)

Anyway, you're in your senior year, and it's already the end of April. How much longer are you going to be in your college town - maybe a month?
post #6 of 39
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by 12345Michael54321 View Post


Your friends give you a hard time because you wear jeans, a button up shirt, and loafers, instead of less nice jeans, a dirty plaid button-up, and muddy boots?

The first time a friend criticizes what you're wearing, just tell him something meaningless and distracted, like, "Right," or "Okay."

If he keeps harping on it, tell him that you heard him the first time, and you find it somewhat unsettling just how much interest he seems to be taking in your clothing.

Tell me, if the situation were reversed, and you constantly gave him a hard time about what he was wearing, how do you think he'd respond?
Some men lead, others follow. Decide in which role you're more comfortable.

Seriously, some people place great value on being accepted, and fitting in, and not rocking the boat. If that's you, then dress in such a manner as to be accepted by the people around you. Other people place great value on independence of expression - and how you choose to dress is one form of individual expression. If that's you, then (within certain limits) dress to please yourself, and don't worry so much about it differing from the local norm.

Either sort of person can be a good and worthwhile human being. So be honest with yourself, and decide who you are. (And yes, obviously isn't not entirely a black/white sort of thing. It's more of a spectrum. That's understood.)

Anyway, you're in your senior year, and it's already the end of April. How much longer are you going to be in your college town - maybe a month?

 

"Your friends give you a hard time because you wear jeans, a button up shirt, and loafers, instead of less nice jeans, a dirty plaid button-up, and muddy boots?"

 

Yes they do, I mean the exact description is not how every person dresses, most are a T shirt and jeans, or a hoodie.  I am the stylish one of my friends.

 

I do like that way of pointing out their social picking as if they were "interested", well played!

 

I'm still in that awkward phase between being a regular joe and dressing up with actual taste, its been quite the learning curve. I will admit I've had some nights that were less well coordinated than I would have liked.

 

I actually am offset one semester, still have another semester left. Also my hometown near Hershey, Pa is about the same, although down that way I am closer to the capitol in Harrisburg and more city oriented so I am more accepted down that way.

post #7 of 39
Quote:
Originally Posted by scubaru View Post

"Your friends give you a hard time because you wear jeans, a button up shirt, and loafers, instead of less nice jeans, a dirty plaid button-up, and muddy boots?"


Yes they do, I mean the exact description is not how every person dresses, most are a T shirt and jeans, or a hoodie.  I am the stylish one of my friends.


I do like that way of pointing out their social picking as if they were "interested", well played!

I'm still in that awkward phase between being a regular joe and dressing up with actual taste, its been quite the learning curve. I will admit I've had some nights that were less well coordinated than I would have liked.

I actually am offset one semester, still have another semester left. Also my hometown near Hershey, Pa is about the same, although down that way I am closer to the capitol in Harrisburg and more city oriented so I am more accepted down that way.


Hello, from a fellow Pennsylvanian.

Yes, outside of the cities it's a lot of crap. But to thine own self be true. Even if I'm going to Potter or Juniata or Perry County I still dress well. Hell, I wore a bow tie to Susquehanna County last month.
post #8 of 39
Quote:
Originally Posted by scubaru View Post

Also my hometown near Hershey, Pa is about the same, although down that way I am closer to the capitol in Harrisburg and more city oriented so I am more accepted down that way.
Do bear in mind that even in cities - including major cities - most people dress poorly. Particularly (although by no means exclusively) young men.

You could be in NYC, or Los Angles, and if the people around you are wearing jeans and t-shirts (a distinct possibility, I assure you), while you're wearing chinos and an OCBD (which is pretty casual in its own right), you will be asked why you're so dressed up.

Even in major cities, many offices have adopted a "business casual" dress code. It's entirely possible that if you're wearing a sport coat (again, I'm not talking about a 3-piece suit and a bow tie), you'll be alone in doing so at work. And someone will ask you why you're so dressed up.

So please don't spin some fantasy for yourself, about how once you're in a city, everyone will treat dressing well as a routine thing.

(Just in case you're wondering, there are various perfectly acceptable responses to the "Why are you so dressed up?" comment. And it is a comment, as much as it is a question, since often it's not so much asking for an explanation as it is a suggestion that you're dressed inappropriately. You could answer that you're comfortable with how you're dressed. Or that you never know with whom you'll be meeting that day.)
post #9 of 39
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by harvey_birdman View Post


Hello, from a fellow Pennsylvanian.

Yes, outside of the cities it's a lot of crap. But to thine own self be true. Even if I'm going to Potter or Juniata or Perry County I still dress well. Hell, I wore a bow tie to Susquehanna County last month.

 

Glad to know there are others in PA with some class!

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by 12345Michael54321 View Post


Do bear in mind that even in cities - including major cities - most people dress poorly. Particularly (although by no means exclusively) young men.

You could be in NYC, or Los Angles, and if the people around you are wearing jeans and t-shirts (a distinct possibility, I assure you), while you're wearing chinos and an OCBD (which is pretty casual in its own right), you will be asked why you're so dressed up.

Even in major cities, many offices have adopted a "business casual" dress code. It's entirely possible that if you're wearing a sport coat (again, I'm not talking about a 3-piece suit and a bow tie), you'll be alone in doing so at work. And someone will ask you why you're so dressed up.

So please don't spin some fantasy for yourself, about how once you're in a city, everyone will treat dressing well as a routine thing.

(Just in case you're wondering, there are various perfectly acceptable responses to the "Why are you so dressed up?" comment. And it is a comment, as much as it is a question, since often it's not so much asking for an explanation as it is a suggestion that you're dressed inappropriately. You could answer that you're comfortable with how you're dressed. Or that you never know with whom you'll be meeting that day.)

 

Yeah I noticed in those towns there are just as many people in casual clothes, and nothing wrong with it.  Just seems the percentage of the total population has a better eye on what to wear.  I've also noticed that when I do dress up for around here, I tend to put on an outfit, look in the mirror and tone it down.  The one night I had a simple setup of dark jeans, white button up, and a skinny black tie to go to a local bar, ended up taking off the tie.  Just little things that still seem like too much around here.

 

I've had three quotes that I really like for why I dress the way I do that play along with what you said...

 

"Dress for the job you want" (Still getting out of school)

 

"Go out looking like you're going to meet the love of your life" (Still Single)

 

And one my friend just told me this one today "You say I look different, well you all look the same"

post #10 of 39
Quote:
Originally Posted by scubaru View Post

Quote:
I've had three quotes that I really like for why I dress the way I do that play along with what you said...

"Dress for the job you want" (Still getting out of school)
An oft repeated cliché. And one having only limited truth, in any case.

Dressing toward the high end of the attire spectrum for those with your job is fine. But dressing fundamentally differently from everyone else at your current job level, in order to look more like the people at the level you want to join, is more likely than not a mistake. It's one thing to aspire, another to pretend.
Quote:
"Go out looking like you're going to meet the love of your life" (Still Single)
I suspect that the sort of person who'd question you for wearing something slightly nicer than he's got on, would respond poorly to this response. Since hearing an overt recognition of romantic possibilities is at least as off putting to many people as is seeing someone nicely dressed. (Ironically, hearing an overt recognition of sexual possibilities may not be at all off putting to such a person, at least if he's a guy. Many people are far more comfortable hearing about sex, than about romance. I leave you to draw your own conclusions as to why this may be.) (And, in any case, it's vulgar to tell someone that you dress nicely because you're hoping to get laid.)
Quote:
"You say I look different, well you all look the same"
Unnecessarily confrontational.

Moreover, couching your response in terms of "I/you all" only emphasizes that you choose to set yourself apart from the questioner and those resembling him in dress. That's fine if you're comfortable embracing a position outside the group, but from your previous posts in this thread, it's fairly clear that you're not 100% okay with such a dynamic and that you desire at least some level of acceptance by the questioner and his sartorial peer group.
post #11 of 39
Thread Starter 

Thank you for the well spoken response to my quotes!  So the thing is I sorta have these as quotes that I personally keep to myself, the last one being sorta a potential comment to friends. 

 

An oft repeated cliché. And one having only limited truth, in any case.

Dressing toward the high end of the attire spectrum for those with your job is fine. But dressing fundamentally differently from everyone else at your current job level, in order to look more like the people at the level you want to join, is more likely than not a mistake. It's one thing to aspire, another to pretend.

 

The way I view this quote is more the confidence that dressing up instills in me. For instance I work in a machine shop, a far cry for a place to get away with wearing a blazer, suit, etc. I am one of the entry level engineers and as so do both physical labor and of course the engineering work that my degree is based on.  Most days I wear a T-shirt and jeans because of the constant contact with machining, which lets face it isn't a clean activity.  However on days I know I'm staying clean I wear a polo, and it gives me a mental boost. Not in a I'm better than others, but more a this is what 4 years of schooling has been for, this is what I want to be when I get my final diploma.  I see the higher level engineers and people in our marketing and management division and know if I worked hard enough and matched their attire as I grew I could have the opportunity to be with them. Clothes don't define the man, but the confidence I have in what I wear helps me reach further.

 

 

I suspect that the sort of person who'd question you for wearing something slightly nicer than he's got on, would respond poorly to this response. Since hearing an overt recognition of romantic possibilities is at least as off putting to many people as is seeing someone nicely dressed. (Ironically, hearing an overt recognition of sexual possibilities may not be at all off putting to such a person, at least if he's a guy. Many people are far more comfortable hearing about sex, than about romance. I leave you to draw your own conclusions as to why this may be.) (And, in any case, it's vulgar to tell someone that you dress nicely because you're hoping to get laid.)

 

 

This is more personal for me, I'd never say this to anyone who was giving me any hate for dressing up.  I'm a guy who still believes in romantic gestures and meeting someone who just changes everything.  It's just a thought in my head when I finish up the last touch of an outfit and think "Maybe tonight..."

 

 

Unnecessarily confrontational.


Moreover, couching your response in terms of "I/you all" only emphasizes that you choose to set yourself apart from the questioner and those resembling him in dress. That's fine if you're comfortable embracing a position outside the group, but from your previous posts in this thread, it's fairly clear that you're not 100% okay with such a dynamic and that you desire at least some level of acceptance by the questioner and his sartorial peer group.

 

When I dress up I do it with confidence, if anyone tries to bring me down I stand tall in what I'm wearing/doing.  I've committed to dressing up for the night, I'm going to embrace it.  So when someone does mention anything to me, I do intend to use this one to assert my stance.  Sure I feel unsure behind the curtain as you can see from this thread I created, but confidence is sexy and desirable.  It is confrontational, but amongst early 20's college guys, its sorta the caliber of tone I need.  Guess we'll see if anyone brings anything up this week.

post #12 of 39
Honestly, if you're getting negative feedback, you should probably adjust -- "being yourself" for the sake of being yourself is overrated, and if you're unwilling to change (or not change) something as trivial as the clothes that you wear for the sake of fitting in, there might be another problem.

You could be weird.

But it's more likely that the issue is where you live, and unless your desire to behave as if you are not living in a tiny-ass town goes away, it's going to continue to bother you. Who knows, in ten years your rebellion against small town culture could grow to define you. Also, as far as I know, it's hard to make a lot of money in small towns (or as a mechanic or whatever) ... meaning that if you want to "dress well" (i.e. wear "fancy" clothes, or whatever), you're going to either spend all of your money on clothes or wear cheap-ass "classy" clothes, which is significantly worse than wearing cheap-ass normal clothes, and there are few things that are more cringe-worthy than a small-town guy who insists on consistently overdressing in shitty clothes because he thinks he's being classy.

You mentioned class a lot. You said that you still have "class" despite being a 23 year old college student, as if being a 23 year old college student was remotely related to class. I'm pretty sure that the class being referred to is the upper one, which it sounds like you are not a part of. Instead of striving to look like a classy dude, why don't you strive to actually join the upper class? The rest will follow, and the transition will be more natural -- because, frankly, it sounds like you might be forcing it right now.

I don't know. I'm also a 22 year old college student, but I've worn a button down shirt every single day for as long as I can remember. I don't feel weird about it, although I do feel uncomfortable not dressing this way. I exclusively buy clothes that are bad as fuck and I wear the coolest shit I can think of almost every morning. All of my friends and everyone who I associate with on even a semi-regular basis does the same. And I wear a blazer or suit at least once a week -- not because I want to, although I do like it, but because dressing this way is required for whatever social situation it is. It sounds like this is what you want, but you're never going to find it where you live. If I started dressing like a working class dude, it'd weird my friends out and make them feel uncomfortable. This is the effect that you are having on your friends.

Anyway, rather than trying to differentiate yourself superficially (because it's always so transparent, and I'd imagine that this is what people are responding negatively to), I'd recommend digging deeper. And move the fuck out of the middle of nowhere and never look back. It seems like people from small towns view this as insurmountable or something, but it's really not.

Also, not to be a dick, but why are you wearing black loafers? I feel like that's a very daring mix of casual and formal that I would only wear in fairly specific situations. I guess they're good for the office. I don't know.

For every one person who comments, ten people will have thought the same thing and said nothing.
post #13 of 39
"Committing to dress up for the night"

What a comically un-masculine thing thing to say. Don't, like, defiantly commit to dressing up for the night out. This is not a commitment that you have to make. Just go with the flow. If I'm unsure of what the expected attire for a night will be, I ask. I feel like society has determined that this is the best policy, and lowering your head and barreling through society's conventions won't take you anywhere.
post #14 of 39
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by riotior View Post

Honestly, if you're getting negative feedback, you should probably adjust -- "being yourself" for the sake of being yourself is overrated, and if you're unwilling to change (or not change) something as trivial as the clothes that you wear for the sake of fitting in, there might be another problem.

You could be weird.

But it's more likely that the issue is where you live, and unless your desire to behave as if you are not living in a tiny-ass town goes away, it's going to continue to bother you. Who knows, in ten years your rebellion against small town culture could grow to define you. Also, as far as I know, it's hard to make a lot of money in small towns (or as a mechanic or whatever) ... meaning that if you want to "dress well" (i.e. wear "fancy" clothes, or whatever), you're going to either spend all of your money on clothes or wear cheap-ass "classy" clothes, which is significantly worse than wearing cheap-ass normal clothes, and there are few things that are more cringe-worthy than a small-town guy who insists on consistently overdressing in shitty clothes because he thinks he's being classy.

You mentioned class a lot. You said that you still have "class" despite being a 23 year old college student, as if being a 23 year old college student was remotely related to class. I'm pretty sure that the class being referred to is the upper one, which it sounds like you are not a part of. Instead of striving to look like a classy dude, why don't you strive to actually join the upper class? The rest will follow, and the transition will be more natural -- because, frankly, it sounds like you might be forcing it right now.

I don't know. I'm also a 22 year old college student, but I've worn a button down shirt every single day for as long as I can remember. I don't feel weird about it, although I do feel uncomfortable not dressing this way. I exclusively buy clothes that are bad as fuck and I wear the coolest shit I can think of almost every morning. All of my friends and everyone who I associate with on even a semi-regular basis does the same. And I wear a blazer or suit at least once a week -- not because I want to, although I do like it, but because dressing this way is required for whatever social situation it is. It sounds like this is what you want, but you're never going to find it where you live. If I started dressing like a working class dude, it'd weird my friends out and make them feel uncomfortable. This is the effect that you are having on your friends.

Anyway, rather than trying to differentiate yourself superficially (because it's always so transparent, and I'd imagine that this is what people are responding negatively to), I'd recommend digging deeper. And move the fuck out of the middle of nowhere and never look back. It seems like people from small towns view this as insurmountable or something, but it's really not.

Also, not to be a dick, but why are you wearing black loafers? I feel like that's a very daring mix of casual and formal that I would only wear in fairly specific situations. I guess they're good for the office. I don't know.

For every one person who comments, ten people will have thought the same thing and said nothing.

 

Well I'm stuck in this tiny ass town until I finish my degree in another 6 months. Even then when I'm out my machine shop is back home near Harrisburg and I'll be living locally down there till I can pay off some debt and get oriented on my next big move.  As for the quality of my items, no they aren't Louis Vuitton or Gucci but I try to aim for higher brands in my price range right now and am keeping my "closet" so to speak small until I'm out of school and can fill it with higher quality clothes from a higher income post graduation.  

 

In my town there are two colleges and therefore tons of college kids running around. Although it might not be the view I see its how I percieve the elders of the town to look at me and group me into the being another college guy.  I always feel I need to define myself as something above that. I still open doors for people, help others with car trouble, say please and thank you, etc. I just want my clothes to match my good personality; I use the word "class" because what I see most college student's have is a douchebag personality, pants half off their ass, and those stupid flat brim hats with the sticker. It just looks like a kid who didn't grow up yet, and they act accordingly.  I want to define my clothes to match my good guy personality, that's why I use the word "class" so much for my age.

 

My collection of shirts and nice clothes is small, as we speak I have 8 dress button ups, a suit, a vest, a cardigan and a mix match of other pieces. So I can't do similar and wear a button up everyday, although that is what I would feel comfortable doing if I could.  I come from wearing working or basic clothes all the time, that's my default, I know it seems like I'm forcing this but I'm not. I'm adjusting, life is about changing and defining yourself several times, this is one of those times.   It isn't happening overnight, I've been trying to figure out how to better dress and what not for the past year.  Just now it's coming down to how the friends treat me.....Isn't it usually the case your best friends are the ones that hark on you the most? 

 

You recommend dig deeper, well like I said, my character and personality match how I'm trying to present myself, I have respect for others and don't have a cockiness about how I'm dressing, I think this is just shit I need to go through since I'm stuck in this town a little longer yet.

 

The black loafers are all I have dress shoe wise, they are black textured leather, but they are a loafer design, ie. no laces.  It's why I've been looking for a nice leather soled comfortable set of oxfords.

post #15 of 39
That is unfortunate. It sounds like the school that you chose was not a very good fit for your personality. I wasn't trying trying to be harsh; what I was trying to convey is that there actually is a polite society out there, which is hopefully encouraging. Like, if you want more, it's out there. You just have to go get it. I don't know. I can really empathize with you, though, because I would absolutely hate if I felt like I had to wear shitty clothes to appease my friends ... or if I was stuck in a small town with limited mobility ... or surrounded by hooligans or something. I just really encourage you to do something about it, because life outside of the bubble that you're currently living in is pretty awesome. Or maybe I should say that life inside of the bubble that I'm living in is awesome? Who knows. But if you are able to move, it's very easy to "re-invent" yourself -- like, it sounds like you grew out of your old paradigm but your friends won't let you get away with it.

Anyway, regardless of that, why are you wearing dress shoes to a bar at our age? That's kind of weird. I wouldn't bother getting another pair of dress shoes, because it sounds like you don't have to go to very many formal events. You should get a pair of drivers or something.

You remind me of the guy from this New Yorker cartoon:



Oh also -- when I said dig deeper, I wasn't referring to soul-searching. I meant that you should aim for changes in your life that are a shit load bigger and more important than the clothes that you wear, and that being able to wear cool clothes will follow that. Like, the problem is way bigger than clothes. It's where you live and the people you know.
Edited by riotior - 5/1/13 at 6:38am
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